French warplanes hit Mali Islamist command centres: military

  • AFP, Paris
  • |
  • Updated: Jan 31, 2013 19:53 IST

French warplanes have blasted command centres, training camps and depots run by Islamist extremists in the mountains of north Mali, the French military said on Thursday.

The "fairly significant" air strikes were carried out over the past few days in the Aguelhok region near the border with Algeria, military spokesman colonel Thierry Burkhard told reporters in Paris.

Aguelhok lies north of Kidal, the last town occupied by militants where on Wednesday French troops took control of the airport ahead of seeking to secure the town itself.

Burkhard said a column of 1,400 Chadian soldiers -- part of a regional African force being set up to help chase out the Islamists -- was heading by road towards Kidal from the Niger border.

France swept to Mali's aid on January 11 as the Islamists, who had ruled the north for months, advanced south towards the capital Bamako, sparking fears the whole country could become a haven for terrorists


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